The foundations have been laid for Sydney’s lockdown extension to be announced today.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian hinted the shutdown would be extended after locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 ran rampant.
Since Sunday, community transmission has spread across the city – with 77, 112 and 89 cases daily.
Two people have died since Friday after contracting the virus.
The strongest indication the lockdown would remain past July 16 was the announcement of a huge support scheme for businesses affected in the city last night, which economists say is based on the assumption the lockdown will last another four weeks.
This would see it lifting mid-August, rather than this coming Friday.
The state posted 89 new infections yesterday and a second death – with at least 21 of those cases infectious in the community.
There are now 65 Covid cases in Sydney’s hospitals, with 21 of those in intensive care and four who require ventilation.
That means one in three hospitalised NSW Covid patients is in intensive care, and it’s not just elderly people or those with underlying medical conditions who are suffering.
St Vincent’s Hospital emergency department medical director Dr Paul Preisz told the Sydney Morning Herald there was a more diverse group of hospital patients this time around, with a “disproportionate number of younger patients in ICU”.
“It just seems like nobody is safe,” he said.
There are currently 25 people under the age of 55 in Sydney hospitals and 14 under the age of 35. In intensive care there is one person in their 20s, one in their 30s, one in their 40s, five in their 50s, six in their 60s, three in their 70s and one in their 80s.
During a joint press conference yesterday afternoon with Prime Minister Scott Morrison to announce a Covid-19 disaster payment, Berejiklian implied there was no end in sight for Sydney’s restrictions.
“The New South Wales Government was very pleased to be able to extend with our part of the payments to all of New South Wales so that no matter where you live, if you’re suffering because of the stay at home provisions, you are able to make sure that you and your loved ones don’t go through that stress – no matter how long the lockdown lasts,” she told reporters.
Berejiklian went on to say it was the government’s intention to “have this lockdown not go longer than it needs to”, but the disaster payments would provide relief during that period of uncertainty.
“Whether you’re someone who runs a business or someone who’s an employee, you’ll be able to respect the rules we put in place and also have peace of mind,” she said.
NSW businesses that suffered at least a 30 per cent drop in revenue due to the lockdown will be paid up to A$10,000 a week to cover costs – provided they keep their workers – under the new changes.
The Covid-19 Disaster Payment would increase from A$500 to A$600 each week if a person lost 20 hours or more of work a week – or A$325 to A$375 each week if a person lost between eight and 20 hours of work.
Sydney’s total Covid-19 outbreak has now grown to 767 since June 16 when the first case was reported.
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